Some Countries Are Turning To TV Lessons Instead of Online Learning. Could It Work in The U.S. Too?


With so many schools not returning to in-person learning this fall, educators everywhere are asking themselves: what’s the best way to teach–and reach — our students? In many countries where internet access is minimal, their answer is: television.

Countries throughout the world are teaching kids through educational TV programming.

From Tanzania to China, educators and governments have decided that one of the easiest ways to keep education going while schools are closed is through educational TV programming. Considering there are four million kids worldwide without internet, the idea is quite genius.

Teachers often still lead the lessons, but their lessons reach well beyond their classroom, often to a whole country of kids. The videos are often short, but still engaging — and sometimes with visual effects. In Peru, for one, where only 15% of all kids have internet, they teach the country’s national curriculum.

In other countries, like Tanzania, they’ve made educational cartoons free and accessible on televisions. Elsewhere, state-owned television is getting a resurgence as they offer televised school.

Even in these cases, teachers still engage with their students, but they mainly do it via phones (which are more accessible than internet in some places) and WhatsApp. It’s a totally different educational system, to be sure, but it’s also a great answer to communities where internet isn’t as accessible or reliable.

Of course, in the U.S. there are some challenges to this. For one, there isn’t one standard curriculum for the entire country. But on the state level, the idea, perhaps, could work. After all, they’ve already done it in New Jersey.

When the pandemic hit and they realized that 300,000 kids were without internet, the public TV station began to air educational broadcasts.

Plus, TV lessons in the U.S.? They’re far from new. After all, Sesame Street started when Joan Ganz Cooney wanted to give underprivileged preschool-age kids an education that got them ready for Kindergarten.

As we rethink education and how we teach our kids, perhaps taking a look at an “old” technology like television isn’t such a bad idea.

For a full list of countries and how they’re reaching students through television, go here.

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